Royal Mistress. Born Marie-Jeanne Bécu at Vaucouleurs, Lorraine, France, the illegitimate daughter of Anne Bécu, her father was reportedly Jean Baptiste Gormand of Vaubernier, a friar. She was educated at a convent and at the age of about 15 moved to Paris. Under the name Jeanne Rancon or Jeanne Vaubernier, she worked as a milliner's assistant. She attracted the attention of Jean du Barry, a Gascon nobleman and he soon made her his mistress. He introduced her into Parisian high society, where she was very successful. She attracted Louis XV's attention by 1768. Because she could not qualify as official royal mistress unless she was married to a noble, du Barry arranged a marriage between Jeanne and his brother, Guillaume in April 1769 so that she might join Louis XV's court. The comtesse immediately joined the faction that worked for the downfall of Louis XV's minister of foreign affairs, the duc de Choiseul though she had very little political influence upon the king. The extravagance of her upkeep, however, lent to her unpopularity. Neither did she get on with the dauphine, Marie Antoinette, who objected to the comtesse's low birth. Upon the death of Louis XV and the accession of Louis XVI, Madame du Barry was dismissed from court to the convent of Pont-au-Dames. Within two years she moved to her estates at Louvenciennes with the duc de Brissac. She earned a reputation as a generous patron of the arts. After the outbreak of the French Revolution she made several trips to London, probably to aid French émigrés. In 1793 she was accused of being a counter-revolutionary and arrested. She was tried by the Tribunal of Paris and condemned to death. Unlike most victims of the guillotine she did not meet he fate stoically. Reportedly she became hysterical on the scaffold, crying and begging for mercy, affecting the crowd and hastening the executioner to complete his task. Her last words were recorded as, "Encore un moment, monsieur le bourreau, un petit moment."
Bio by: Iola